State Theatre’s Business Council debuts with dining, networking — and great expectations

Sarah Chaplin. (File photo)

State Theatre New Jersey hosted its inaugural Business Council event Monday at Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell, inviting guests to enjoy farm-to-table dining, caricature illustrations and a makeup tutorial while networking with key members of New Jersey’s business community.

“We’re so pleased to launch our 2019-2020 season with this amazing Business Council event,” Sarah K. Chaplin, CEO and president of State Theatre New Jersey, said. “State Theatre is about bringing people together. I’ve been here for a year and I have been embraced by every aspect of this community, including the business community, of which it’s been so wonderful to meet so many fellow entrepreneurs and executives who believe in what we do and we believe in what they do. We’re honored to be able to bring you all together tonight to support both the arts and your business.”

More than 200,000 visit State Theatre New Jersey annually for more than 200 performances and events at the 98-year-old, 1,800-seat venue in New Brunswick, while the theater’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 35,000 students, teachers and families each year with accessible and affordable arts programming.

That is why Vincent Pungello, managing member at Pungello CPA in Jackson Township, said he joined State Theatre New Jersey’s advisory board more than a year ago.

“When I discovered the altruism and outreach of the State Theatre within a number of different communities, including the autistic community, veterans, the LGBQT community and the black and Hispanic communities, I was floored to learn that my small firm could have such an impact by being involved with this organization,” Pungello, also a founding member of the State Theatre New Jersey Business Council, said. “Plus, I got a chance to meet a lot of different business, make connections and grow my firm.”

His discovery, Pungello said, led to more than a year of discussions and planned soft events with Chaplin and her team to formally create the Business Council at State Theatre New Jersey.

“The idea was to make State Theatre a bit more (business-to-business)-friendly by providing more opportunities for the theater to interact with businesses,” Pungello said.

For example, State Theatre New Jersey partnered with Hamilton Jewelers’ Business Gifts Division to host its inaugural event.

“This is the first opportunity in our B2B space to host a networking event with the wonderful team at State Theatre New Jersey,” Donna Bouchard, vice president at Hamilton Jewelers in Princeton, said.

Pungello said the event was just one of many planned for this year.

“We’ve planned a series of events throughout the year that tie the arts to what we’re doing, so we’re going to have a heck of a good time,” Pungello said.

State Theatre New Jersey’s Business Council, Pungello added, is a networking group designed for a group of likeminded businesses with a certain level of financial success that also want to contribute to their community.

“We are looking to bring people on board that have a commitment not only to their community and to their employees, but also to their bottom lines,” he said.

With membership opportunities beginning at $2,500, State Theatre New Jersey’s Business Council aims to diversify and further the nonprofit theater’s mission as a cultural leader in New Jersey while creating valuable networking, sponsorship and client and employee appreciation opportunities for companies of all sizes.

“The idea is to promote both the theater and our businesses, while also having the opportunity to host events, sponsor and broaden our reach across the entire state,” Pungello said. “We truly believe that, by partnering with State Theatre New Jersey, we can propel our organizations in ways we could not achieve on our own, both financially and altruistically.”

To learn more about the State Theatre New Jersey’s Business Council, email Audrey Carmeli, manager of corporate and foundation relations, at